2017 Winner: Deir el Bahri Project: The Lineage of Royal Legitimization

Project Information
Deir el Bahri Project: The Lineage of Royal Legitimization
HIS 199F
Even before the creation of the Ancient Egyptian state, the rulers of this ancient region created strategies to validate their control. Thus, this concept of legitimacy came to define Egyptian Kingship. Throughout the Dynastic Period (3,000-332 BCE), kings used religion, military campaigns, and even the prosperity of Egypt to portray themselves as the true rulers of their empire. In this project, I want to expand our understanding of the Egyptians use of legitimacy. Because the king was thought to be the semi-divine son of the gods, many historians focus on how the kings depicted themselves as the rulers of Egypt through religion. For my own research, I wanted to examine this concept from a different perspective, investigating how these rulers used their earthly connections to validate their roles as king. To do this, my project will be an examination of familial legitimacy. While religion was an essential part of Egyptian kingship, in my research I show how the kings of the New Kingdom justified their reign through their connection to their mortal family (past kings, actual family line). I examine visual representations of this form of legitimacy, showing how temple architecture and landscape were used by the kings to express the importance of their familial connections. For the parameters of this project, my research is specifically be about the king Hatshepsut (1473-1458 BCE), as I explain the importance of the architecture, reliefs, and placement of her mortuary temple (the temple of Deir el Bahri). By analyzing the spatial and architectural aspects of Hatshepsut’s temple, I show that kingship was not only legitimized through the king’s relationship with the gods, but it could also be supported through the king’s earthly connection. By understanding how divine and familial legitimizations are separate forms of royal justification, one can begin to see how Hatshepsut used these different connections to support her claim to the throne.
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  • Cori Ann Hoover (Stevenson)